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Club Passim, Cambridge

#3 of 14 in Nightlife in Cambridge
Nightlife · Performance
Club Passim is an American folk music club in the Harvard Square area of Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was opened by Joyce Kalina (now Chopra) and Paula Kelley in 1958, when it was known as Club 47 (based on its then address, 47 Mount Auburn Street, also in Cambridge; it moved to its present location on Palmer Street in 1963), and changed its name to simply Passim in 1969. The Donlins who ran the club during the 1970s pronounced the name PASSim. Bob Donlin said this pronunciation as he welcomed people to the shows with the always-out-of-adjustment mic stand microphone, but those who were unaware often said PassEEM. It adopted the present name in 1994; a combination of the earlier two names. At its inception, it was mainly a jazz and blues club, but soon branched out to include ethnic folk, then singer-songwriter folk.
Artists who have performed there include Joan Baez, Shawn Colvin, Bob Dylan, Tom Rush, Joni Mitchell, Suzanne Vega, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Buffett, John Mayer, Matt Nathanson, and Brian Webb. At times the Club was a place for blues musicians like Paul Butterfield and Elvin Bishop to play as well.

In the 1960s, the club (when known as Club 47) played a role in the rise of folk-rock music, when it began to book folk-rock bands whose music was unrelated to traditional folk, such as the Lovin' Spoonful. The club's importance to the 1960s Cambridge folk scene is documented extensively in Eric Von Schmidt's Baby, Let Me Follow You Down: The Illustrated Story of the Cambridge Folk Years. Scott Alarik described Club 47 as being "the hangout of choice for the new folkies" during that time.
Today there is a Passim School of Music program, which offers workshops and classes to teens and adults.
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53 reviews
  • I went to college in Boston, moved away for a couple of years and came back 20+ years ago. Can you believe in all that time I had NEVER been to Passim?? Cut to a few weeks ago...I went to my first...  more »
  • Came to see the amazing Mindy Smith. One thing worth noting when you're coming to see an act. The venue is in a basement - there a few pillars on each side of the venue (probably about 15 feet from...  more »
  • Passims is an intimate club featuring a variety of performing arts from folk to bluegrass to a monthly storytelling and spoken word poetry evening. They are a nonprofit so they aren't expensive and are community focused. We need more places like this.
  • Incredible music selection year round for all price points! Food is good and healthy options are available, too. Personally, I enjoyed a delicious butternut squash salad with feta cheese with a side of meat that was extremely satisfying. Seating is a bit tight but allows for some sort of "communal table" that proved to be a good solution if you're also trying to meet new people, too. It also keeps the place organized and neat, but prevents from dancing should the music be appropriate for it. It's a must if you wish to listen to some good live music and venture in an almost historic music venue!!

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